Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2008
Kath. Pfarrkirche Untermieming
Kuhn Organ Builders Ltd, 2008
Good things come to those ...
The first note on file at Messrs. Kuhn concerning the organ in Untermieming, Austria, relates to a phone call on 1st February 1988. The note reads, «offer requested for restoration of the organ, no deadline, to be executed at a convenient time». Apparently sometimes patience is needed until the convenient time comes along. In February 1993 it appeared that the time had come because there was another enquiry from Untermieming. What would be the actual costs and when could the work be carried out? Having given the information, we had to wait another 12 years until we heard from Untermieming again. However, in April 2005 the organ project Untermieming moved into gear and in September 2007 a work contract was concluded. A delay in construction of another church restoration in East Tyrol allowed us to accomplish the work already in 2008, so that we were finally able to restore the organ 20 years after the first contact.
The road leading to restoration of the organ was a long one, but viewed professionally and in the light of the law on listed buildings its necessity was indisputable. A Behmann organ dating from 1892 with tracker actions and cone chests is a rarity nowadays. The preservation is undoubtedly worthwhile if the organ is still in as nearly an original condition as the piece in Untermieming. Even the front pipes made of tin are preserved. In 1917 such pipes were confiscated from almost every organ in Austria for the war effort. Not only the high historic value of the organ justifies the restoration but also the sound of these instruments is nowadays once again held in high esteem. Behmann built instruments to a high standard. In the final analysis that was a reason to preserve them. That the organ in the meantime was no longer held in such esteem, and without doubt the consequent insufficient maintenance, caused damage to the instrument and led in fact to its unplayable condition. The bellows in the attic was by no means airtight due to the effects of the climate, and the leather was torn. In the course of the years the organ had been badly soiled and some of the repairs fought the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem.
Faced with these facts it was clear that the rehabilitation of the organ had to be done properly on all parts before their reliable operation in the long term could be guaranteed. With a «Pflästerlipolitik», as we say in Switzerland, (meaning to apply sticking plaster to damage and injuries) there would be nothing gained.
Of course, it is not possible to mention all details of our work here. The restoration report will give all this information. However, during our work in Untermieming it was very obvious that our employees invested their heart and soul in it. Thus, thanks to them and of course also to the persons responsible and the donators of the parish, a cultural asset has here been preserved and the sounds of 1892 have been revived.
Restoring an organ also means preserving the sound that has accompanied many generations of a parish and passing it on to the next generations. Therefore the focus is not on the spirit of the time, personal taste or an individual concept of the perfect sound. A sense of responsibility vis-à-vis the work of former periods, also a certain humbleness and without doubt the awareness of tradition form, from our experience, an excellent basis for a successful organ restoration. We feel that these qualities are closely linked to the region of Tyrol and its people.
Translation: RS 2008